Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Ashlee Stormo's 24-Hour Screenplay Challenge: The Trials and Triumphs

It's the ultimate exercise in screenwriting: Could you write a screenplay in 24 hours? Aspiring screenwriter Ashlee Stormo proves that it's possible in her final "A Day In the Life of An Aspiring Screenwriter" Series video. Watch and see how she completes a script over one sleepless day and night! What's the fastest you've been able to write a first draft?

"Screenwriters, this week, my mom Sherrie and I wrote an entire (very rough) first draft and vlogged it! There were some pros and cons but mostly pros because, as we all know, editing is everything, and we can fix the flawed bits! Would you ever try this? Have you?"

Ashlee Stormo


Hello friends! My name is Ashlee Stormo, and this week I've partnered with SoCreate to do a fun challenge. So, in 24 hours, my mom and I are going to write an entire outline and first draft of a screenplay.

Ashlee (A): This is my mom. Her name is Sherri.

Sherri (S): Hi!

A: Since I'm working with a buddy.

S: My buddy! I'm your mother.

A: My buddy! So, since I'm working with my mom, I'm doing a three-act structure graph so that we can both look at how the pacing is supposed to go. I think that will help us visualize it better since there are two of us.

S: Are you saying there are going to be problems?

A: No, I'm not saying there are going to be problems! I'm just saying it will be more helpful drawn out than in my head. Before we get into the outline, which I've done another video on, if you want to see how I outline using a book called "The Anatomy of Story" by John Truby, I thought that it would be good to just draw out this basic three-act structure. Act one we all know, inciting incident, second thoughts, climax, and then we're just filling in bits and bobs. And then I think it's also a really good idea to color code it if you're a super visual person. And it's also a good idea to have a snack on hand! But before we can fill this out, I feel like we need to figure out who our characters are.

S: This is basically like, oh, you know here's the mom. She's kind of uptight. She's this age. She portrays this, but she's going to turn into this.

A: It's 2:07, and we are currently doing brainstorm blurbs for our characters. So, we're trying to figure out how each of these characters relates to the theme of the storyline because then we can make sure that they're all relevant and that they all have a purpose because my biggest pet peeve is floater supporting characters. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

S: It is 7:21.

A: P.M. So, what we've done so far is the entire outline, and then I plugged that outline, which again – I have a video on with SoCreate on how to do that – into a visual sort of three-act structure. I don't follow it exactly because I don't believe in the three-act structure exactly. You have to make adjustments, or it's kind of too cookie-cutter. Okay. I'm moving to where it's more sunny. And what we're doing now is the scene weave. The scene weave is just a shortlist of every single scene that you're going to do within the screenplay. And this is great because then you have a clear vision for what's going to happen, and you can basically just plug in what you've done in the outline, just with adding some cushion scenes to make it more cinematic.

S: We're 11 hours in. It's an hour past my night night time. I think right now, Ashlee wants me to leave her alone. We've got the timeline down, and that other hoopla down, where you make the scenes. Now she just wants to get some of it structured and not have me, "Oh, but this! Oh, but this!" and then she's like, "No, we need to add that in later," and that kind of stuff. So, I'm going to take a nap.

A: (Singing) Rock-a-bye baby.

S: I don't know who that ever works for. Unless you're actually being rocked and you're a baby. It is now May 17th, 5:37 the next day. How many hours are we on?

A: 17.

S: We are on our 17th hour.

A: I'm on my 17th hour.

S: Ashlee's on her 17th hour. I got my scheduled catnap in. At one point, eight pages got lost. Tragedy. … We have been at it for 22 hours. We're on our last little stretch. We're doing good. We're actually going to finish a first, but very, very, very rough first draft, but it's going pretty good. We collaborate well. And it's been an experience, and her brother thinks she should do this every weekend. And we're just like,  no. So, I'm just kind of walking around trying to stay away.

A: Alright, so we finished the 24-hour screenplay a few days ago. A few days have passed. And looking over my footage, I decided I could give you all a summary of some of the things that were pros versus some of the things that were cons and just other takeaways from the whole process. My mom's over here, too. So we actually ended up finishing the screenplay by 10:58, which means we finished it in about 23 hours instead of 24. It was a very rough first draft, and we will definitely be editing it pretty severely because, towards the end there, you can kind of see the progression. It's like really cute in the beginning, and the description is pretty, and then at the end, you can tell where we got tired.

I have a few pros and a few cons. One of the pros is that the first draft is done. Then from there, editing, you can kind of see very clearly when you're looking back on it, the things that you need to edit. Another pro my mom has …

S: What I like about the 24-hour screenplay idea is that you're working on it, everything is fresh, it's all in your mind, you can get it out there, get it done. And it's not like, oh, I'm coming back to this project in two months, and I've got to refresh myself.

A: Yeah, for sure, it's definitely more fresh in your mind. I find that if I outline something a few months prior, and I finally decide to jump back into it, I'd be like well why did this character make this choice. So, I definitely agree with you on that one.

S: The thing that I like about this experience is that it's two of us, and we can bounce the ideas off of each other.

A: It's really easy to work with mom because the outline process is what takes me the most time most of the time because if I get stuck on something, I'm stuck, and it's only me trying to come up with it. But when I'm stuck on something and mom's there, we can just kind of volley between one another. Some cons were, I was exhausted. And like I said, as it progressed, it was lesser and lesser quality. But that's okay because editing is everything. Another con is, I think, we were so, or at least for me, I was so dead set on not failing this 24-hour challenge that I didn't let some of the plot points breathe a little, and I was just like "Move on! Move on! What's the next page going to be? Or the next plot point going to be?" So I think there are definitely more pros than cons because, in the long run, we have a whole screenplay. We did it super quick. It didn't take forever like it can sometimes when life gets in the way. You should try it sometime if you're stuck. And it was so much fun. Thanks for doing it with me, mom!

S: It was fun!

A: It was super fun. Let me know if you decide to do a 24-hour challenge. I'd be very interested to hear how others like this experience because I really don't know if I'd be able to do it individually without a writing partner. So, I'm interested to see if anyone else would want to do it.

Thank you so much for watching. Make sure you're following SoCreate. They have a ton of fantastic resources for writers for free. They've got a blog. Make sure you look at their Twitter, their YouTube, their Instagram. Go through and look at the advice they have from people who are working professionals in the industry and thank you so much for watching!

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